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Monday, June 11, 2018

This summer camp has a little more bite than most

URI to offer first Summer Shark Camp for 2 city high schools in July
By Emma Gauthier

hiding hide GIFMost people try to spend their summers away from sharks, but students from Central Falls High School and Paul Cuffee High School in Providence will get the chance to do the opposite at the University of Rhode Island’s first Summer Shark Camp.

The University is recruiting students from each of the schools to participate in the camp from July 23 to 27, and conduct empirical research on sharks and ocean life. Spots in the camp are restricted to students in those schools who must meet a variety of standards, including those for academic performance.

Each day, after being bused to URI, students will head to Point Judith, where they’ll board the URI research vessel Cap’n Bert and spend six hours exploring on the water.

Led by Biological Sciences Professor Bradley Wetherbee, students will fish for sharks, tag them, and then release them back into the ocean, all while learning about their biology. Wetherbee said they’ll learn everything about the different species, morphological features and what sets sharks apart from other ocean life.

Michelle Fontes-Barros, assistant director of Diversity Recruitment and Retention for the College of Environment and Life Sciences, said that this camp is about more than just learning about sharks.

“Exposure is huge,” Fontes-Barros said. “A lot of students that come to our University with a specific focus, to be a nurse, doctor, or pharmacist, but they don’t learn all of the different ways to explore what they’re interested in.”

Fontes-Barros said that in urban communities students are only exposed to some aspects of science. She sees this summer camp as one way to introduce students to the opportunities available to them. But even better than telling them, she said, is showing them.

“Students need to know what [opportunities are] here, not a presentation about it, but to let them see what it means to do it,” she said. “We want to create programs that expose students to diverse career fields.”

Wetherbee started studying sharks more than 30 years ago, and since then he’s tagged hundreds of them. He’s excited to show students his field of study, and hopes that they’ll use this experience to help influence their career choices in the future.

For more information, please contact Michelle Fontes-Barros at, or at 401-874-4616.